Questions about Red and Yellow Admirals

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  • #35763


    Do Red admirals like the small stinging nettles as much as Yellow admirals?
    Do Yellow admirals feed on the Ongaonga tree nettle as much as Red admirals?
    Are Red and Yellow admirals easy to breed?
    How would I protect the caterpillars from wasps?
    When is the best time of the year to plant nettles?
    Can I make Red and Yellow admirals as common as the Cabbage white in 5 years?

    I am new here so I don’t know this site much

Viewing 9 replies - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
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  • #35983


    Hi Jaqui

    About 3 years back you led me on an Admiral caterpillar hunt, and I was hooked on raising them! I now have a row of lusty-looking nettles beside a riotous garden of Buddleia, diasies, blue sage, etc. But we must be too far from breeding stock. I have been checking nettles in Ambury Farm and Cornwall Park this week, but no sign of chewed leaves or silk tents.

    If anyone in South/Cenral/East Auckland has surplus Admiral caterpillars, please get in touch; a luxurious home awaits. I do have castles to protect them.




    Hello Tilly

    We hope to have some eggs available soon for members. Will post something here when they are available.




    I have been breeding the Yellow Admirals for a few years but all my nettles died back in the drought last summer and I have not had any caterpillars since.
    Does anyone have some red and yellow caterpillars that they could give me?
    (I live on Waiheke Island near Auckland)
    PS Thanks for all the great advice about breeding them!



    I have both, and I think Norm does aswell. The large patch of nettles I have growing outside brings the Admiral butterflies into my garden, but you will probably need potted plants if you are going to raise the caterpillars in castles to protect them from wasps etc. Another alternative to potted plants is to cut the plant material and put it in Oasis (green foam stuff that florists use) in a small plastic container. You need to carefully examine each stem and make sure there are no small spiders hiding in the leaves. These spiders will eat the caterpillars.



    Would nettles grow better in a pot or in the garden?



    Even if I try to breed them their numbers won’t go down so quickly, I’ll try and breed them, the only thing is the last time I saw admirals that were in the wild was over a year ago so there may not be enough to see the nettles I’ll plant



    These notes compiled by Terry Smithers would be helpful to you in breeding Admirals:



    Pepetuna has answered the queries well. The Admirals will never be as common as the whites simply because the food plants of the Admiral caterpillars is classed as a weed and gets treated accordingly, by not only gardeners but councils determined to make the parks and reserves “aesthetically pleasing”, and concerned about people getting stung by the nettles, whereas brassicas and other plants abound for the White butterfly. If as many people grew nettles as do grow brassicas, then there may be an increase in the Admirals.



    Hi Cullen. We were all newbies to start with. I will try to answer your questions, but please jump in, you real experts, if I have got something wrong, or you have additional advice and info for Cullen (I’m thinking of you Terry, Norm, Angie, Anna…).
    Red and Yellow Admiral females will lay eggs on all nettles. And Red and Yellow Admiral caterpillars will apparently feed happily on any nettles.

    I believe that Red Admiral caterpillars are more commonly found eating Ongaonga than Yellow Admirals, but this might have more to do with the fact that Reds are more common in an edge-of-forest environment than Yellows, than any preference for the Ongaonga as a host plant.

    I haven’t found them particularly easy to breed. But others such as Terry and Norm have bred them quite successfully. They are however, quite easy to rear. I rear both from wild-caught females that have already mated.

    You can protect the caterpillars from wasps by rearing them in a caterpillar castle (which you can buy from the MBNZT on this website) or in a plastic container with a fine mesh top.

    Now is a good time to plant nettles.

    I doubt very much that you will singlehandedly make Admirals as common as the Cabbage White butterfly, ever. That’s no reason not to try, though.

Viewing 9 replies - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)

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